Grandmother of Earl Mountbatten, great-grandmother of Prince Philip and great-great-great grandmother of Felipe VI of Spain.

On the previous post we left Julie and her new husband Prince Alexander of Hesse banished from Russia in 1851 and shunned by his relatives in Germany because he had married a commoner, which cost him his place in the Hessian succession.

With no means of support he joined the Austrian army as a mercenary with the rank of brigade-colonel, but his morganatic marriage was always a problem for his commoner wife who kept a fairly low profile socially and in some cases was openly shunned and humiliated by her ‘betters’. This has been seen by some biographers as one of the reasons why her grandson Earl Mountbatten would go to such lengths to ingratiate himself into social circles.

With the death of Tsar Nicholas I in 1855 the Prince was welcomed back to Russia for visits to his sister Marie and her husband the new Tsar Alexander II. The Prince took on a diplomatic role for the Tsar even though he remained in the Austrian Army, but Julie never went back with him. However, his sister and her husband regularly visited them both at the little castle at Heiligenberg, left to Prince Alexander by his mother, and at the fine new Alexander Palace in Darmstadt – a gift from Tsar Alexander for services rendered.

From left standing: Julie, Princess of Battenberg; her husband’s elder brother and next in line to the throne Prince Karl; Karl’s younger son Prince William; Karl’s heir Prince Louis; Prince Gustav Wasa (from Sweden); Prince Alexander of Hesse, Julie’s husband.
Seated: Julie’s two sisters-in-law Elizabeth, Princess Karl and the Tsarina of Russia, formerly Marie of Hesse; right Princess Alice, wife of Prince Louis and third child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
The photo shows a family group in Darmstadt in 1864, with the erstwhile errant couple, now parents of a daughter and four sons, united with the Prince’s family. Four years after this picture was taken, Julie and Alexander’s 14-year-old eldest son Prince Louis of Battenberg startled his parents by announcing he was planning to join the British Navy.

For details of a short family history commissioned from me by Romsey Abbey where Earl Mountbatten is interred, see Queens-Haven Publications at